#HeyKaren campaign spotlights Commonwealth Credit Union executive

ctruman@herald-leader.comJuly 23, 2014 

— Do you know Karen Harbin? Her marketing plan says that if you don't, you should.

Harbin, the president and chief executive officer of Frankfort-based Commonwealth Credit Union, is the face of her organization's latest marketing campaign, which started two weeks ago.

She's the woman in the picture with her feet up on her desk — wearing a striking pair of peep-toe taupe heels, her favorite shoes — with the hashtag #HeyKaren and the website address Heykaren.org.

There are three billboards promoting Harbin in Lexington, two in Frankfort and two in Georgetown. The image is on banners on most of the credit union's offices, and the #HeyKaren campaign is on Facebook, Vine and Twitter, said Andrea Hayes, marketing director for Commonwealth Credit Union. Hayes said TV ads will be seen soon.

The campaign makes Harbin, 54 and in her third year as president, the very public face of the credit union and chief dispenser of clear information about financial matters.

She already has received questions about mortgages, credit cards, switching accounts and mobile banking.

"#HeyKaren is answering questions about things the average person will want to know, but has not thought to ask," Hayes said. "We want people to know who we are. ... The whole purpose is being down to Earth, saying, 'Come see me.'"

The purpose of the campaign is to gain new members and is part of the 83,000-member credit union's expansion into Lexington — where it has branches on Sir Barton Way and Meijer Way — and Louisville, where it plans to soon open a branch in the Saint Matthews area.

Eligibility for membership requires that a person either be, or be somehow related to, someone who contributes to one of Kentucky's government retirement systems.

The #HeyKaren campaign has generated so much recognition that Harbin is often approached around town. So is her identical twin sister, Sharen Hubbard, a principal in Owen County, who is sometimes mistaken for the newly ubiquitous Karen Harbin.

Hayes had a T-shirt made for Hubbard, which says: "#I'm not #HeyKaren."

The credit union worked with Lexington's Oculus Studios to develop the campaign.

Cheryl Truman: (859) 231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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